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Flat Roof Maintenance: How to Increase the Life of Your Roof

modern apartment building with flat roof

When you own any sort of property, it is a big responsibility. Any property owner will tell you that the undeniable truth is that just when it feels like everything is going smoothly, something will inevitably break down and require repairs.

The secret to avoiding this? Being proactive in your maintenance efforts! One of the best places to practice having a regular maintenance routine is on your flat roof. Why? Here are just a few reasons:

  • Avoid expensive repairs 💸
  • Improve energy efficiency ⚡
  • Catch potential problems quickly 👓
  • Avoid water damage to your entire building 💧

Today, we’ll be talking all about flat roof maintenance and what makes it so important. After all, many property owners are used to sloped roofs, which can look and function very differently. We’ll help you identify signs of damage and learn about the expected lifespan of your roof.

Ready to get started? Let’s dive in!

5 Types of Flat Roofs

roofer installing tar foil on the flat roof

Before you learn how to properly maintain your roof, it is important to understand exactly what your roof IS.

Different roofing styles come with individual pros and cons, as well as varying life spans. Knowing what style of flat roof you have will help you to tailor your maintenance to the needs of your roof.

Today, we’ll be learning about the five main types of flat roofing systems and the benefits and challenges that come with each one.

1) Built Up Roofs (BUR)

Built-up roofs, also known as BUR roofs, are the oldest flat roofing style and are still going strong today. This particular type of flat roof is comprised of layers of roofing felt and asphalt that are then topped off with a layer of gravel. This particular configuration makes for a roof that stands up very well to impact damage.

However, it has a shorter lifespan, only lasting for around 15 years, and can be a tricky material to work with when it comes to locating roof leaks and damaged areas of your roof, as the gravel can cover up obvious signs of damage.

2) TPO

TPO is loved for its flexibility, which makes it a great choice for property owners whose buildings are located in an area where temperatures can vary greatly. This flexibility allows TPO to expand and contract with the changing weather without tearing or cracking. It’s also known for being significantly less expensive than other materials on the market. You’ll likely also save some money on labor costs, as it can be installed quickly and easily.

The average TPO roof will last 20-30 years with proper maintenance.

3) PVC

PVC flat roofing is known for being supremely durable. This means that if you live in an area where your roof deals with a significant amount of impact damage from things like hail or high winds, PVC could work well for you. Especially since it is also moisture, fire, and chemical resistant. With proper maintenance, your roof can last through all of that for up to 20 years.

This level of durability comes with a significant price tag, though. Expect to pay more for a PVC roof than you would for other materials.

4) Modified Bitumen

Modified bitumen roofs sit somewhere between old-fashioned BUR roofing and modern single-ply systems on the innovation scale. Sleeker than BUR roofs and more durable than single-ply systems, it gives you the best of both worlds for your flat roof.

Something to keep in mind, though, is that it requires a highly specific application process. The roof membrane is attached using a propane torch that heats and seals the seams. This method creates a fire hazard if not done correctly, so you’ll want to be sure to choose a company that has experience installing modified bitumen.

5) EPDM

EPDM is one of the most affordable flat roof materials on the market, which makes it a prime choice for those on a strict budget! That being said, it does require more intensive installation, which can drive your price up.

EPDM roofing does not work in all environments, as it is prone to shrinkage when it ages. We recommend talking with your contractor and seeing whether they recommend EPDM for your particular climate.

Tips for Flat Roof Maintenance

The best way to extend the life of your roof and get your money’s worth is to properly maintain it! However, many people are at a loss when it comes to flat roof maintenance. After all, it is a little different than maintenance for sloped roofs. But, let us assure you, it is not any more difficult.

Here are our best tips for maintaining a healthy flat roof!

  • Schedule Roof Inspections – Each flat roof style is unique and can show signs of wear and tear in different ways. That’s why the best way to ensure that your roof is functioning properly is to have it regularly inspected by a professional roofing contractor. We recommend scheduling a roof inspection at least once a year for optimal maintenance.
  • Keep Your Flat Roof Clear – One of the biggest dangers for any roof system is water buildup. Water damage is insidious, and it can be particularly dangerous for flat roof systems. One of the best ways to prevent water pooling is to keep your flat roof clear of debris accumulation. This means regular maintenance, removing any leaves, twigs or other debris that may have gathered on your roof.
  • Manage Vegetation – Depending on the size of your building, you may have surrounding trees that hang over your roof line. Overhanging tree branches can put you in greater danger of impact damage when they fall. Regularly trimming the trees can help to keep your roof safe.
  • Fast Repairs – Look, we get it. You have a lot on your plate. We’ve all put off repairing things in our homes that we know needs to be repaired. But the truth is that when it comes to your roof, time is of the essence. Roof damage can lead to water seeping into your property and causing a number of problems. Getting repairs in a timely manner can help protect your property and keep you on track.

4 Signs of a Damaged Flat Roof

One of the most important things that you can do as the owner of a flat roof is to learn how to spot the signs of damage on your own. Knowing what to look for will help you know when it is time to call in a contractor.

Here are the 4 most common signs of flat roof damage:

1) Pooling Water

By far, the most common indicator of a problem with your flat roofing system is pooling water. Of course, it’s natural to experience some pooling after a large rainstorm or as snow is melting. However, if you are finding the same puddles there 24 hours later, you may want to contact your local contractor. This could be a sign that something is wrong with your roof and that it is holding on to moisture.

2) Rips or Tears

professional doing the flat roof maintenance

While it may sound obvious if you are finding rips, tears, or punctures in your roof membrane, it is time to call in the pros. In some cases, you may be able to repair this with a simple patch, but severe damage may call for a full roof replacement.

3) Roof Leaks

Is your ceiling leaking? You’re likely looking at a problem with your flat roof. It can be difficult to identify the source of a flat roof leak, so we always recommend calling in a professional to do a thorough examination of your roof.

4) Damaged Flashing

Roof flashing is an important part of any roof. Made of thin sheets of metal, it is designed to offer extra protection to areas of your roof that are vulnerable to water damage. Therefore, when the flashing is damaged, your entire building is at risk of water exposure.

Flashing damage can present in several different ways. Older flashing can sometimes rust and corrode. Other times, you may simply notice that the flashing has become detached. Either way, it is crucial that you replace your flashing as soon as possible in order to protect the health of your roof.

Get the Professional Help You Need!

Not sure where to start when it comes to roof maintenance? Let Anchor Point Roofing point you in the right direction! As local roofing experts, we can help you select a flat roofing material that is right for you and assist you in learning how to properly care for it. Contact us today to receive a free quote for your roofing project!

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